New Orono library to promote model of energy efficiency

Posted April 17, 2009, at 11:44 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Construction crews made enough progress this winter on the town’s new public library that the building is on track for a mid-August move-in date.

And by the time the library building is finished, it should be one of the most environmentally friendly new municipal buildings in the state.

The aim, said library building committee chairman Ray Cota, is for the building to attain silver-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification.

Thanks to a propane-fired radiant heating system in the floor, an abundance of natural light and computer-controlled lighting and air conditioning systems, the building at the corner of Pine and Birch streets will be one of the first municipal buildings in Maine to have a silver certification, Cota said.

The LEED rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, green buildings. The LEED certification system has four progressive levels of green: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

“As the fundraising committee was out there, beating the bushes if you will, folks liked that idea [of an environmentally friendly building],” Cota said. “The town council liked that idea, and the library foundation board liked that idea. So that’s what we shot for.”

Propane was chosen as a heat source, he said, because natural gas is not yet available in the area around the library. The computer system for cooling and electricity will be controlled both on- and off-site so adjustments can be made when the building is closed.

The library should be ready for occupancy in August, after which an opening will be scheduled.

“[Contractor E.W. Littlefield] did get a lot done, and we’re right on schedule,” Cota said. “They haven’t lost a day.”

Orono’s library is currently located in a 4,000-square-foot space inside a building on Goodridge Drive that also houses Orono Middle and High schools. The new building, in the works since 2002, will be about 6,000 square feet.

The new library’s proximity to downtown businesses and town facilities such as the thrift shop and Orono Senior Citizen Center could make for a “nice little campus,” Cota said.

“There are a lot of really positive things about having it in that area,” he said. “It’ll be its own little center of activity.”

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